Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Still waters can be challenging, too

On Sunday my husband dragged me off to a book signing at our local bookstore.  He's a bit of an armchair sailor (though we have owned a small sailboat or two in our time, we are thankfully boat-free at this point in our lives) so he was looking forward to learning about the sailing adventures of another couple on the island.

I am a reluctant sailor at best, and was not all that engaged, but there was one photograph, somewhat similar to this one, that struck me as incredibly beautiful: the sleek reflections of a colorful evening sky on a relatively calm sea.

It took a minute for me to realize that for a sailor, out on the ocean, with no land in sight, a tiny motor and a bare minimum of fuel, that glorious calm could be a harbinger of doom. 

And as I feel the terror looking at the photos of the huge waves breaking over the coast of New Jersey or silhouetted against the skyline of Chicago, I realize that in some of these pictures there are surfers, either riding the waves or standing patiently with surfboards, planning how to catch the next wave.

It's another gentle reminder of how dependent our reactions are upon perspective; that two people looking at the same scene or situation might have completely different responses to what they see.  Which might even mean that we could adapt our own responses by consciously shifting our perspectives -- though I am reluctant to suggest that, for fear of belittling the challenges another might face.

But I do remember thinking my parents' move from Cincinnati to Chicago, the summer after my freshman year in high school, was a catastrophic event -- and then it turned into an amazing opportunity.  Change -- when we're stepping into it, whether we instigated it or were pushed -- has a way of being pretty scary.  And the kinds of catastrophic loss some East Coast residents are facing -- not to mention the implications of that loss for the whole country's economy -- have got to be incredibly disturbing to contemplate.

So -- and again, I don't want to in any way minimize the enormity of the task that lies ahead -- I thought I'd share this passage from my reading this morning in Goldie Hawn's book, 10 Mindful Minutes:

"The events that make us sad are often those that also lead to change, and change is what shapes the universe.  People fear change, especially children who crave stability and routine, but change can be good.  Change shakes us from complacency and makes us sit yp and take notice.  It helps us focus on what is good and important in our lives.  Change stops us from stagnating and, in opening us up to other possibilities, leads to transformation."

It all depends on your perspective, whether the choppy waters ahead are promising or terrifying; whether the prevailing winds blow ill or good.  But one thing is certain: there's some substantial change in the works; it only remains to be seen what sort of transformation that might bring.

No comments: